The Pact of the Catacombs – 50 Years Anniversary of a Radical Document

Basilica of Saints Nereus and Achilleus, an underground altar where the Catacomb Pact was signed at a Mass on Nov. 16, 1965. Religion News Service photo by Grant Gallicho
Basilica of Saints Nereus and Achilleus, an underground altar where the Catacomb Pact was signed at a Mass on Nov. 16, 1965. Religion News Service photo by Grant Gallicho

As Vatican Council II drew to a close in 1965, 40 bishops met at night in the Domitilla Catacombs outside Rome. In that holy place of Christian dead they celebrated the Eucharist and signed a document that expressed their personal commitments as bishops to the ideals of the Council under the suggestive title of the Pact of the Catacombs. The only place we have found its complete text transcribed is in the Chronicle of Vatican II by the Franciscan bishop Boaventura Kloppenburg. He titled the document Pact of the Servant and Poor Church. It is known that the bishops were led by Archbishop Helder Camara of Recife, Brazil, one of the widely respected 20th-century champions of justice and peace. Later on, Cardinal Roger Etchagaray, who served as honorary president of the Pontifical Council, Justice and Peace, also signed it. (Source HERE)

Here is a translation of the document, obviously, written originally in Latin. Continue reading “The Pact of the Catacombs – 50 Years Anniversary of a Radical Document”

A Circle of Protection for the Poor – A Pastoral Letter to US Congress

Christian Leaders Call on Lawmakers to Reaffirm Their Commitment to a Circle of Protection

With Congress planning to recess on Aug. 5 before addressing budget sequestration, more than 5,000 Christian leaders have issued a reminder that lawmakers must make hungry and poor people a priority as they consider our nation’s fiscal challenges.

The pastoral letter asks elected officials working to reduce our national debt to maintain a circle of protection around programs that effectively alleviate hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. The pastoral letter was initiated by the Circle of Protection, an alliance of Christian leaders who have met with key members of both parties, urging them not to balance the budget on the backs of hungry and poor people.

In the letter, members of the Circle of Protection thank President Barack Obama for his efforts to reduce the deficit while limiting cuts to programs serving poor people, and they let him know that they are praying for him. The faith leaders then ask lawmakers from both parties to work together to end hunger and poverty by engaging in respectful, bipartisan dialogue and by ending brinksmanship. They further ask lawmakers to develop a plan that finds revenue and savings without increasing poverty and to frame budget discussions in terms of moral choices understandable to the American people. Continue reading “A Circle of Protection for the Poor – A Pastoral Letter to US Congress”

Richard Rohr – Bias From the Bottom

We see in the Gospels that it’s the lame, the poor, the blind, the prostitutes, the drunkards, the tax collectors, the sinners, the outsiders, and the foreigners who tend to follow Jesus. It is those on the inside and the top who crucify him (elders, chief priests, teachers of the Law, scribes, and Roman occupiers). Shouldn’t that tell us something really important about perspective? Every viewpoint is a view from a point, and we need to critique our own perspective if we are to see and do the full truth.

We fail to appreciate liberation theology because of 1,700 years of interpreting the Scriptures from the perspective of the empowered clergy class, rather than from the perspective of the marginalized who first received the message with such excitement. Once Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Empire (after 313 AD), we largely stopped reading the Bible from the side of the poor and the oppressed. We read it from the side of the political establishment and, I am sorry to say, from the priesthood side which was often eager to keep us codependent on their ministrations, instead of from the side of people hungry for justice and truth. No wonder Jesus said, “I did not come for the healthy but for the sick” (Mark 2:17). This priority has the power to constantly detach religion from its common marriage to power, money, and self-importance.

Adapted from CAC Foundation Set: Gospel Call to Compassionate Action

(Bias from the Bottom) and Contemplative Prayer (CD, DVD, MP3)


Cornel West: How Intellectuals Betrayed the Poor

Nistor Buliga suggested this video clip as a comment on the recent blog post with the interview with Cornel West.

So, here it is, in case you did not see it in the comments.

The Poor Among You

Poverty in America (source of picture, HERE)

The ABP site has just published a very powerful article on poverty in America. Here are a few excerpts:

…more Americans live in poverty today than at any time in more than 50 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“The richest nation in human history now has the highest poverty level of any Western industrialized nation,” Sider writes in his new book, Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget. Continue reading “The Poor Among You”

Prayer for the Poor and Neglected

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

40 Years in the Desert – 7. A Christian Critique of Capitalism 4

7.4 God’s Heart for the Poor

Finally, we have to understand that it is neither the merciless competition for profit, nor the Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ which frequently characterises the capitalist economies, but God’s heart for the poor and marginalised which should be of paramount concern for the Church and the individual Christian. So help us God!

Sermon – Good News for the Poor

Luke 4:14-21
Sermon preached at Gorbals Parish Church, January 24th 2010 – Third Sunday after Epiphany.

Two weeks ago I was away at a Probationers’ Conference for about four days. It was really good to catch up with friends, to exchange stories from the churches where we are all working and training for ministry, and to learn about the things we will have to deal with after the end of our training. Training sessions were great, but we always seem to get a lot more from the more informal, personal interactions between and after sessions, when we discuss things in detail and we try to figure out how the theory applies in our everyday life of ministry. The whole conference was centred on the issue of mission, which fits so well with today’s Gospel reading.

Read on…

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